- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2009


The foreign minister of the Czech Republic is a political contradiction.

Karel Schwarzenberg is a prince from an old noble family tracing back to the 12th century. He holds the title of Karl VII but represents the populist Green Party in the Czech Senate.

He is conservative on economic policies, liberal on other issues. In a Europe where many Green Party radicals join anti-Israeli protests, he is such a staunch supporter of the Jewish state that one Israeli newspaper dubbed him the “Zionist prince.”

He holds both Czech and Swiss citizenship and has land holdings in the Czech Republic and in Germany. His first name is Karel in Czech and Karl in German.

A close-cropped mustache adorns his upper lip, and he cuts a dashing figure in his trademark three-piece suits - while most politicians are clean-shaven and never wear vests.

He frequently sports bow ties and smokes a pipe at a time when most politicians dress blandly and condemn tobacco.

His full name is Karl Johannes Nepomuk Josef Norbert Friedrich Antonius Wratislaw Mena von Schwarzenberg and his formal title is “his serene highness the prince of Schwarzenberg, count of Sulz, princely landgrave in Klettgau and duke of Krummau.”

Normally humorous and outspoken, he says he must restrain himself now because he speaks on behalf of the entire European Union during the current six-month Czech presidency of the 27-nation alliance.

He is also a great fan of President Obama.

“He already surprised the world and America with his ideas to change the world,” he said of Mr. Obama in a speech Monday at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

“I congratulate the United States and the wonderful American people. You really made a very bold choice. We Europeans believe in your new president.”

Mr. Schwarzenberg added that Europe, often criticized for spending too little on defense and sending too few troops to international missions, has a duty to support Mr. Obama.

“The U.S. has global responsibilities, but we have to carry our share as well,” he said. “We should be ready to answer the call for the new partnership with the Obama administration.”

Mr. Schwarzenberg added that NATO is facing a test of credibility in Afghanistan, where the Western alliance is leading 55,000 troops - more than half from the United States - in its first deployment outside Europe.

“In Afghanistan, we fight not just for the future of the Afghan people but for the future of NATO,” he said. “We must not fail.”

Mr. Schwarzenberg also said the global economic disaster is not a crisis of capitalism.

“The world was shocked by the failure of financial markets. It hit with incredible speed,” he said. “But we must retain capitalism.”


Victor Brombert now might be a mild-mannered professor of romance languages and literature at Princeton University, but during World War II he was a soldier who stormed the beaches at Normandy and helped liberate France.

French Ambassador Pierre Vimont recognized his heroism earlier this month by presenting him with France’s highest award, the Legion of Honor.

“The award … is a sign of France’s true and unforgettable gratitude and appreciation for your personal, precious contribution to the United States’ decisive role in the liberation of our country,” Mr. Vimont said as he presented the decoration that recognized Mr. Brombert as a “chevalier,” the top rank in the legion.

“The French people will never forget your courage and your devotion to the great cause of freedom,” Mr. Vimont said.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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